Byrd stays free: Judge says 'no evidence' of bond violation

Sun HeraldOctober 14, 2013 

PASCAGOULA -- A special judge ruled Monday that he found no evidence of bond violation by Sheriff Mike Byrd and therefore did not order to revoke his bond.

Byrd was in court on a bond revocation hearing before Judge William Coleman after District Attorney Tony Lawrence filed a motion, citing Byrd's contact with witnesses who testified before a grand jury.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence said Byrd violated the conditions of his bond by contacting witnesses through third parties.

"With that badge comes intimidation," Lawrence said.

Lawrence asked Coleman to give Byrd jail time so he understands that no man is above the law.

Joe Sam Owen, Byrd's attorney, said Byrd has not intimidated anyone because none of the witnesses said they were intimidated.

He said there is no proof that Byrd contacted these witnesses about their testimony, but only about the facts of the case.

"I'm glad we're past this and now we can move onto the real issue," Owen said.

Deputy Mickey Powell, whose son, Chad, was the officer shot in the incident at the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force, testified that Byrd came to his property and told him "he may be preaching at his funeral because he just couldn't go to jail."

Powell was the third person to testify in the bond revocation hearing.

Supporters that include retired Bishop Joseph L. Howze entered the Jackson County Courthouse to support Byrd as he returns for his bond revocation hearing Monday afternoon.

Byrd was indicted on 31 criminal charges, which includes 10 counts each of fraud and embezzlement, two counts each of second-degree hindering prosecution, witness tampering, attempted subornation of perjury, intimidating an officer in the discharge of his duties, extortion and one count of perjury.

He entered the courtroom with his attorney, Owen, just before court was scheduled to start.

"I'm here to support with my prayers," Howze said.

The state called Deputy Chief Ken Broadus to testify as the hearing opened at 1 p.m.

Broadus testified that the sheriff told him to contact Sgt. Brad Lewis about the Mexican restaurant last month.

Broadus told Owen he didn't ask Lewis about the testimony, only about the incident at the Mexican restaurant.

Mary Wanda Smith, Lewis' mother-in-law and an employee for Jackson County maintenance, was the second person to testify.

She said Byrd asked her to speak with her in his office after running into her in a hallway. She testified that he asked her to tell Lewis there were no hard feelings and that he still loved Lewis and his family.

Lancen Shipman, a former Moss Police officer now with the sheriff's department, testified he spoke with Byrd about Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis. Byrd wanted to know if Davis had made any derogatory statements about him, Shipman testified.

Shipman said asked then-Moss Point officer J.D. Savage if he heard anything negative.

Savage, who now works for Lucedale Police Department, was then called to testify.

Savage said Shipman called him to ask if he had any information on Chief Davis that could discredit him in the indictments.

Savage said he told Shipman he didn't have anything to help him out.

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